This blog was inspired by a recent picture that I posted, its been a long time since I have sat, looked at a photograph and really think in-depth about it. Yes, this may sound absolutely ridiculous because we look at our photos all the time and reminisce or remember that specific moment, but what I talking about, is going deeper. I looked at this picture and I thought, what do I like about Hyenas?
This particular image had that very effect on me. From not only remembering the moment, but it also brought up a discussion in my own head(no I’m not crazy). I found myself looking at this picture and admiring what an incredible animal it is, from its design, to its ability to adapt to its environment and the complexity of their family structure.
See, many of us view these animals as scavengers, filthy animals who are like sly gangsters. Why do I think this is the case? Well, for starters, many people who I have been on safari with generally say that when we see them out and about in the field. Majority of the time we see them trying to steal kills from leopards or lions and when they are feeding. So, having said that, I can see how people can think that of these incredible animals when that’s what is seen 90% of the time.
When I’m in the bush, I like to take it slow, to sit with an animal for an extended period of time. For me, this creates a much more meaningful and memorable sighting. Doing this allows us to spend a part of that animals day with it and it gives us a greater understanding of that specific animals habits and behavior.
One of the first times I ever truly appreciated these animals, was seeing them around their den. To sit and watch oh they interact with each other, the hierarchy structure and in general just seeing a whole new side to hyenas.
A group of hyenas is called a clan, they vary in size depending on where are. For example, in the Masai Mara you can have 50 or 60 individuals in one clan, whilst in areas such as the Kruger park, their group sizes can be half that.
The Clan is headed up and controlled by the queen, the males have the lowest rank, below all the females and the females are ranked according to their lineage. Does that make sense?
In most reserves you will find individuals on their own, the reason for this, is that they can cover more ground spread out than as a group. The advantage of this is that if an individual finds food and it’s a rather large kill, or there are other predators such as lions feeding and they need backup, they will call the rest of the clan to assist.
One of my favourite things to do while I am on safari, is to sit outside my room after dinner and listen to the sounds of the bush. Often I will hear things like lions, leopards, owls, nightjars and hyenas and what amazes me is that once one hyena calls, you will often hear another calling in the distance, same with other predators. In the case of the Hyenas, its often more to touch base with one another. It gives each individual an idea of where the other clan members are.
Getting back to the hyena dens, depending on the numbers of clan members will determine how many dens they have. These dens are usually in large termite mounds, where the youngsters can rest and play safely.
When a female gives birth, she will normally move away from the den site/s where she gives birth and keeps them away for about two weeks before introducing them into the clan and exposing them to the rest of the youngsters.
It can be quite a harsh world for hyenas, because even from a young age, they inherit their status from their mother and this is instilled from a very young age.
All in all, they are really fascinating animals and believe me, the more time you spend with them, the more you will start to appreciate them.
Until next time,